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Beyond Cellblocks: Reducing Criminalization, Promoting Health Care Access & Racial Justice

This is the first in a series of webinars on ending criminalization of everyday life that will be offered by the Alliance for a Just Society. The Alliance is a national research, policy and organizing network focused on social justice, including ending racial disparity and promoting health equity.

Like many other cities, Seattle has long struggled to address public safety concerns raised by low-level public drug sales, drug use, and prostitution. LEAD was created after Seattle elected officials, public defenders, and community and business groups collectively reached a point of exhaustion, recognizing that status quo of drug law enforcement was failing.

This webinar discusses the origins of LEAD, how it operates, how and when it will be formally evaluated, and prospects for replication in other communities. You can watch both halves in the player below.

RELATED READING: Listen to NPR Seattle’s report on the Seattle Police Department’s new policy.

Date: Friday, March 7, 2014

Time: 11:00 Pacific/ 2:00 Eastern

Host: Danisha Christian, National Organizer, Alliance for a Just Society

Presenter: Kris Nyrop, Project Director, Seattle LEAD Program

Please note that this is a recording of a live broadcast; our apologies for the technical difficulties, and thanks for joining us!

This is the first in a series of webinars on ending criminalization of everyday life that will be offered by the Alliance for a Just Society. The Alliance is a national research, policy and organizing network focused on social justice, including ending racial disparity and promoting health equity.

This webinar will discuss the origins of LEAD, how it operates, how and when it will be formally evaluated, and prospects for replication in other communities.

RELATED READING: Listen to NPR Seattle’s report on the Seattle Police Department’s new policy.

Like many other cities, Seattle has long struggled to address public safety concerns raised by low-level public drug sales, drug use, and prostitution. LEAD was created after Seattle elected officials, public defenders, and community and business groups collectively reached a point of exhaustion, recognizing that status quo of drug law enforcement was failing.

Following years of discussion, a program was developed to divert those arrested for low-level drug and prostitution offenses out of the typical criminal justice cycle and into innovative intensive case management. LEAD differs from drug court and similar programs, by beginning intervention with the initial contact between officers and individuals on the street. It also doesn’t require abstinence or adherence to set rules.

Drug arrests in Seattle fell more than 30 percent in the first year, and jail populations are declining.

LEAD refocuses policy in Seattle from an enforcement and criminalization approach to a health-centered model LEAD takes advantage of Medicaid funding for treating substance abuse and mental health issues. It also provides education and enhanced awareness of racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

For more information, contact Danisha Christian at Danisha@allianceforajustsociety.org